It was the universal cry for justice in my childhood. I used it. My friends used it. It was our plea to fit in; to be accepted. “But mom! All the other kids are doing it!” Whatever “it” was didn’t matter. We wanted “it” and our parents were unfairly keeping us from doing “it.” They asked annoying questions, knowing that no matter how we answered, their answer would still be “no.” “Who else is doing it? Name the other kids.” “If all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, would you want to also?” Yes, my parents didn’t understand the importance of us doing “it” when all the other kids, or two or three kids in the neighborhood, were doing “it.”
God used Joshua to remind the Hebrews entering the Promised Land NOT to use that argument. They were going into a land that God had promised them. One of the traditions of that time was to seek out the people who lived in the land you were entering to find out what gods were in control and what you needed to do to appease them. God reminded the Hebrews that He alone was God. “Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.” (Joshua 23:7-8)
And so the people of Israel were warned. Yet time and again they came before God and said, “God, all the other people are doing this. Why can’t we?” They went on a roller coaster ride where they followed God, then fell downhill because they followed the practices of the nations around them, then were enslaved to other nations, God delivered them, and they repeated the process again and again until the nation finally fell to the Babylonians. In the good times, they followed God – even still, some thought that was too smothering and instead followed the practices of the people around them forsaking God. Forsaking God brought destruction.
The Church today continues to fall into that same trap. A major denomination began its annual meeting with a prayer to the god of another religion. Various leaders have made gods of things and stuff much like the people who are not followers of Christ. We are openly accepting the practices of those around us that are in direct opposition to God’s word. We come to God with ideas and practices that are contrary to God’s plan and try to excuse them by saying “Everyone else is doing it.” And God says no. We live in rebellion to the authority of God’s word as the Church, and then we think God should judge the nation. How can our nation be held accountable when God’s people have not set the example? We can’t change ourselves, we need God’s grace to do that. God’s grace will only work in us when we are open to grace. Grace begins when we acknowledge that God and His ways are just and right, and that we have been following the wrong way. The judgment of God will begin with the Church. It is time for the church to repent. It is time for the Church to be the example people need of how to walk with God.
Lord, how easily I accept the ways of this world. How easily I give credence to the gods of this world. Speak to me daily. Help me to keep my focus on You. Let Your grace mold me into the kind of person I should be. Let me be an example to others in the Church of faithfulness and let my repentance be an example as well. Lord, let our examples of righteous living, possible only through Your grace, make a difference in this world and draw people to You.